For those with tickets to the first 2 p.m. show, Loucel said he will open the theaters as soon as the snack bar is ready and the theaters are clean. The staff will be in at noon.
"It's going to be packed," he said.
For "Star Wars" fan Gary Liberty, nothing but El Centro's midnight showing will do. On Tuesday afternoon he and two friends, Jared and Joe Kaye, bought some of the last tickets available.
While Liberty, a Southwest High School senior, isn't old enough to have seen the first three "Star Wars" movies during their first runs, he and most kids his age grew up with VHS copies of the first trilogy.
He and Jared are big fans. Jared's brother, Joe, though, is just along for the ride.
Asked what he's looking forward to, Joe said, "Maybe getting some rest."
The guys were asked if the derisive reviews "Clones" has received has tempered their enthusiasm.
Gary said, "Nah. I don't listen to critics at all."
"'Cause you're stupid," Jared cracked.
The guys laughed.
Jared said he has paid attention to the reviews, especially all the talk of the amazing visual effects.
Gary agreed, the visual effects should be well worth the price of admission ($6.50 in the case of the midnight showing ticket he held).
"That's all I care about," he said.
The special effects and sound of "Episode I: The Phantom Menace" were Oscar-nominated and the pod-racing sequence in that movie won the MTV Movie Award for best action sequence.
"Star Wars" director George Lucas has said "Episode II" has even better effects, including a completely digital Yoda who wields a wicked lightsaber.
In addition to all the effects, "Episode II" features a romantic subplot featuring Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen. The guys buying tickets were asked if they were prepared to sit through the mushy romantic scenes.
Gary paused, mulled the question, then said, "Is she … ?"
Sorry, man. Natalie isn't.
She will be baring her midriff, though, in a scene reminiscent of the single greatest scene from "Return of the Jedi."
Yeah, that scene, the one where Princess Leia escapes from Jabba's slimy clutches while sporting a gold bikini.
"Ahh, the gold bikini," Gary said. "That's where they get you."
For those wondering, Gary and his buddies bought their tickets during an excused absence from Southwest. About 50 other Imperial Valley high-schoolers didn't, though.
Just as the ticket window at The Movies opened at noon Tuesday, an Imperial police officer (an Imperial trooper … perfect) noticed all the teens waiting in line during school hours and called them in.
By 1 p.m. the teens had been sent back to school and an Imperial High official stood sentry waiting for more.
Storms hopes the kids will not be punished too harshly because she hopes to see them back for the midnight showing.
Asked why she thought those kids would risk getting busted just to get tickets to a movie that's going to be playing for weeks, she said, "It's anticipation."
Storms said for those teens, "Episode I" is not a disappointment or an excuse to hurl insults at Jar Jar Binks — it's "a timeless classic."
One of her colleagues, Shawn Grand, the manager of The Movies in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., has already seen "Episode II."
He said movie fans in general and not just "Star Wars" fans will find something to enjoy in "Episode II."
"I was sitting there wondering how did they film that? This movie proves that digital cinema has come a long way. It's going to be what keeps movies exciting," he said.
>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or email@example.com